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Snapper
by Brian Kimberling

Overview -

**NPR's Best Books of the Year 2013**
A great, hilarious new voice in fiction: the poignant, all-too-human recollections of an affable bird researcher in the Indiana backwater as he goes through a disastrous yet heartening love affair with the place and its people.  Read more...


 
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More About Snapper by Brian Kimberling
 
 
 
Overview

**NPR's Best Books of the Year 2013**
A great, hilarious new voice in fiction: the poignant, all-too-human recollections of an affable bird researcher in the Indiana backwater as he goes through a disastrous yet heartening love affair with the place and its people.
Nathan Lochmueller studies birds, earning just enough money to live on. He drives a glitter-festooned truck, the "Gypsy Moth," and he is in love with Lola, a woman so free-spirited and mysterious she can break a man's heart with a sigh or a shrug. Around them swirls a remarkable cast of characters: the proprietor of Fast Eddie's Burgers & Beer, the genius behind "Thong Thursdays"; Uncle Dart, a Texan who brings his swagger to Indiana with profound and nearly devastating results; a snapping turtle with a taste for thumbs; a German shepherd who howls backup vocals; and the very charismatic state of Indiana itself. And at the center of it all is Nathan, creeping through the forest to observe the birds he loves and coming to terms with the accidental turns his life has taken.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780307908056
  • ISBN-10: 0307908054
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books
  • Publish Date: April 2013
  • Page Count: 210


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Short Stories (single author)
Books > Fiction > Cultural Heritage

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2012-11-19
  • Reviewer: Staff

Kimberling, formerly a professional birdwatcher, grew up in southern Indiana, the setting of his catchy, well-written debut novel. Nathan Lochmueller, a recent philosophy graduate, takes a low-paying job as a songbird researcher at his alma mater, Indiana University, during the mid-1990s. He spends all his time tramping through the forest, where he gives songbirds pet names and encounters eccentrics like a Vietnam veteran scrounging for morel mushrooms. When he’s not bird-watching, Nathan maintains a puzzling “complicated” friendship with the “lovely” Lola who refuses to marry him until it’s too late. The immature, often humorous Nathan and his equally clueless best friend Shane try smoking dried banana peels, and drunken Nathan gets arrested for destroying parking meters with a different friend. His uncouth brother, Darren, also a college graduate, is assaulted by his knife-wielding coke fiend roommate and recuperates at Nathan’s digs. They quarrel over Darren’s dope dealing; he attacks Nathan; and the resulting ear damage ends Nathan’s songbird researcher career. Nathan, past 30 and still aimless, pins his hopes on a lead to work at a Vermont raptor hospital, but his love-hate relationship with Indiana makes it difficult to move away in Kimberling’s accomplished, ironic Midwest coming-of-age tale. Agent: Will Francis, Janklow & Nesbit. (Apr.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Birdbrain revelations

An ornithologist by choice and trade, Nathan loves the world of birds, but as a character he is as much Tom Sawyer as John James Audubon. And fascinating as some of his bird-related research may be (for instance, Eastern Phoebes and Yellow Warblers have responded very differently to climate change), by the end of Snapper, Nathan has learned more about people than any other creature.

Brian Kimberling’s charming first novel immortalizes moments along Nathan’s journey to inner perception in quirky chapters of self-discovery, as he grows up in Indiana—and can’t wait to get out of it. Almost capable of standing alone as short stories themselves, each chapter sheds new light on Nathan’s life journey: his loves, his friendships and his response to health problems.

Time works its black magic on everyone, and readers see Nathan growing up before their eyes, as he navigates Uncle Dart and Aunt Loretta (“who didn’t just come from Texas, they brought it with them”); Lola, his first and persistent love; and Shane, his lifelong friend. Ruefully Nathan arrives at a perverse truth that will restore your faith in the ultimate survival of the best qualities of the human character, especially an acceptance of human nature itself.

Kimberling, a former birdwatcher, now lives in England, where lessons learned in Indiana no doubt hold true as well. With its story of eventual maturity and understanding, Snapper (a reference to a turtle who made a lasting impression on Nathan and his friends, as they unfortunately did on him) is one of those rare books that reads like a breezy exercise of a novel but leaves a profound and lasting impression.

 
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